Mapping the distribution of bird species is a valuable conservation tool and, if such atlases are repeated, they provide quantitative information on range expansions and contractions. National mapping can only be achieved on a 10x10-km grid basis, but local data can be collected on a 2x2-km grid (tetrad) providing much detailed information.
In south-east Scotland (Lothian and Borders combined), breeding atlases were produced in 1968-72 (10-km grid) and 1988-94 (read about this atlas here) (2-km grid); with a winter atlas in 1981/82-83/84 (10-km grid). During 2007-13, in conjunction with the national 10-km atlas (now published), local birdwatchers collected data for a local tetrad atlas in both winter and the breeding season. To complete coverage, the fieldwork for this local atlas was extended to the end of July 2013 - a couple of years beyond the national atlas.
This exhaustive tetrad study, based on 1,770 2x2 km plots and nearly half-a-million items of data collected by over 850 observers, covers the recording areas of Lothian and Borders, an area of 6,456 km². The varied habitats of this region, from estuarine mud and sandflats of the inner Forth to rocky shorelines backed by cliffs in Berwickshire, from the cereal farming areas of the Merse and lochs and reservoirs of the hills to the extensive stands of conifer plantations, as well as heather-clad uplands, river courses and the built-up areas of Edinburgh, all contribute in providing a varied avian fauna that is fully reflected in a new milestone publication, Birds in South-east Scotland 2007-13, RRP £40.
An example of the basic maps produced for Blackbird is illustrated below: